Pilates Teachers' Manual

Special Guest - Trent McEntire

October 27, 2022 Olivia Bioni, Trent McEntire Season 6 Episode 14
Pilates Teachers' Manual
Special Guest - Trent McEntire
Show Notes Transcript

The awesome Trent McEntire joins me on the podcast today. He shares his remarkable experience rehabbing himself in college, the importance of the visual and vestibular systems in Pilates, his unique perspective on movement modalities as tools to solve client problems. He offers valuable insight into the ways Pilates teachers help their clients at all life stages and advice for new teachers too. Tune in!

I want to hear from you! Share your thoughts and follow the podcast on Instagram and Facebook @pilatesteachersmanual. Full show notes, episode transcription, and chapter markers can be found on the podcast website here: http://bit.ly/pilatesteachersmanual. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast for updates, and rate and review wherever you listen!  Episodes now available on YouTube: *https://bit.ly/YouTubePTM*

Email pilatesteachersmanual@oliviabioni.com with your feedback.   

Show Notes:

Trent is the owner of McEntire Pilates in Michigan, USA, the author of Fire Up Your Brain.  Learn more about his work at fireupyourbrain.com. Connect with him on Instagram at @mcentire_pilates

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Episode Music:

Tracks: Tobu - Good Times, Tobu & Itro - Sunburst 
Tobu Official YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/tobuofficial
Itro Official YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/officialitro
Released by NCS 
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[00:00:00] Welcome to Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. I'm Olivia and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and the Pilates community on Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. Today's chapter starts now.

[00:00:56] Hello. Hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. I am super [00:01:00] thrilled today to be on with Trent McIntyre, who is a literal Pilate superhero for reasons that will soon become. Uh, he is a movement educator with over two decades of experience. He is the owner of McEntire Pilates and the founder and author of Fire Up Your Brain, which he will be able to share lots of cool stuff about. So, so excited to have you on. Thank you so much for joining me, Trent.

[00:01:24] Thanks for having me. It's pleasure to be here. 

[00:01:26] What a party. Um, I wanna jump right in. How did you come to Pilates? If you can remember your first experience, tell me what was that? 

[00:01:35] Yeah, my first experience was, um, when I was in college and you know, at the time Pilates was in lawsuit mode where you weren't allowed to say the word Pilates, and so I took dancer specific conditioning on the reformer , and that's what we had to call it. We had to be very clear about that, so we didn't breach any possible issues. 

[00:01:59] So for me it [00:02:00] was, it was, it was a college exposure and it was, it was directed towards dancers. And so the, the work had a, at first a particular, uh, angle towards helping to improve dancers abilities and keep them on the stage.

[00:02:15] Okay. So it's a bit of a jump to go from, I'm doing this Pilates that I can't call Pilates to now I am the founder of like a wild Pilates empire. How did you get inspired to be a teacher in the first place? 

[00:02:28] Yeah. You know, I, when I went to college, I was one of those people lucky enough to have just a really awesome college experience where I took advantage of every opportunity and said yes to just about everything that came across my lap. Even if it was really hard, and even if I hated it, I would still do it to, to get the experience. And when I finished, uh, taking the dancer, specific conditioning on the reformer, my professor was like, I'd love for you to TA the class. And I'm like, Well, yes, the answer is [00:03:00] yes. I don't know what I'm getting myself into, but I'll do that.

[00:03:02] And then, because I was also, um, in her kinesiology class, she asked me to TA that class at the same time. So I, I, I went from, well, being a student and taking these, these courses to then assisting with the course and how, how the assisting with the course worked is basically I took on students as my clients. And so I didn't even know that I would wanna teach. I didn't know that I was going to teach or pursue a life in this world. Um, it was through working with these dancers that it just really started to spark an interest in helping other people. 

[00:03:41] So did you, uh, or I guess I should say, what was your, uh, teacher training sort of process? Did you do a comprehensive training? Did you start just with the reformer and then build? What was that like for you? 

[00:03:54] Yeah, I have a kind of an interesting and patched together situation where, [00:04:00] you know, I, I spent four years in college working in the movement therapies, Pilates, and in that movement therapies category, I was doing Laban movement analysis. I was doing Bartenieff fundamentals and Feldenkreis, and you name it, I was, I had great exposure to all these modalities. Um, to the point where I, I had a different view on movement solutions from the beginning. So I didn't start with a comprehensive Pilates training and have that be my window that I was looking through. I started with this dynamic application of all these modalities. 

[00:04:41] But the thing is, is that it really was my own story and my own recovery of my own injury that brought it together, because I still, at that point, wasn't pursuing a career in teaching. I wasn't trying to, you know, go and become a Pilates teacher. I didn't even, that wasn't even really a thing that was on the radar for most people at that [00:05:00] time, you know? 

[00:05:01] Um, but, you know, I'll just tell you the story. I, I, you know, I, I was fortunate enough to dance at a high level when I was in college and our university brought in. For the dancers in the crowd. They'll get this if, if you're not a dancer, it's okay. But, um, they were able to bring in the New York City Ballet, the Balanchine Trust. So that meant that somebody from New York City Ballet, who was in charge of George Balanchine's work would come in and set this very important work. So just know if you're not a dancer, it's just, it's such an honor to be able to be involved in that level of, of an artist.

[00:05:36] And so the demand was severe, it was intense, and at the end of it, I could barely walk. I would get up in the morning and like shuffle at a shower and have such pain from the knees down. And I thought this could be, this could be, I might be just done. This is like, this is bad. 

[00:05:54] And you know, being in college I didn't have resources. I wasn't going to therapy or getting massage or knew what to do. And [00:06:00] honestly, when I asked people what to do, the things that they suggested were ridiculous and , it was just like, you know, it ranged from put icy hot on it and wrap it in cellophane and it was just like crazy things. It was like, yeah, that's doesn't really address the problem. I have a real problem here. 

[00:06:17] And I was home, um, for Christmas, and I was just kind of complaining to my mom about how much pain I was in, and I just don't get it. Like, why? Why from the knees down? Why is it such a problem and so intense on both sides? And I just don't get it? And she looked at me and she said, Trent, that's because you were born with cerebral palsy.

[00:06:35] And I was like, Wait, wait, what? First of all, what is that? What, what are you even saying right now? And so I was 19 when I found out that I had a class one cerebral palsy. And a lot of people have a class one, and you would never know by looking at somebody with a class one that there's any issues that they had in kind of brain injury at birth. It's not something you, until you get like a class three usually. Then you can see when you look at somebody like there's a, a marked gait or there's some kind of [00:07:00] dysfunction that's very clear. 

[00:07:01] And so, um, I was upset at first, but you know, in the long run it became a gift that I didn't know. I didn't grow up having that label. And, and she's like, Do you remember when you were three? And I was like, I don't remember three. But she sparked my memory by saying, um, you know, you, they, the doctors decided to put casts on your legs to force your heels down because the side effect for me, what from the cerebral palsy was that I couldn't put my heels down. My achilles tendon was so short that I couldn't put my heels down. 

[00:07:27] Now there's a difference between, you know, being a, a toe walker and having the ability to put the heels down. In my case, I didn't have the range and so they put casts on my legs and forced my heels to the ground. No surgeries, nothing invasive, which is probably good in the long run. But I was like, you know, I do remember that because I remember my brother putting garbage bags on my cast and then throwing me in the snowbank cuz that was hilarious. Cuz I wouldn't be able to walk very well cause I had casts on, Right. Cause I did both legs at the same time. That's my only memory. 

[00:07:56] And so that's when, when I went back to school, I [00:08:00] decided I'm gonna see if I can do something about this. And having this background in kinesiology and anatomy and movement science and movement therapies, it's like somehow I feel like I can put this together because I honestly felt like these movement therapies are amazing, but they don't make me stronger. This Pilates thing makes me really strong, but it's not, It's not enough patterning. It just isn't enough patterning with what my body needs. So what if I put them together? 

[00:08:28] So what I did is I started inventing exercises and I started journaling, massive amounts of journaling, on exercises that would work, things that didn't work, things that made it better, things that made it worse, how long the benefits would last, and I rehabbed my own injury and I was able to get through the chronic inflammation, have a successful college career and then dance professionally afterwards. So that was like a very important moment that became the catalyst for where I am now. 

[00:08:56] That is totally wild to find out [00:09:00] something about your childhood that suddenly like is the missing piece of like why things are the way they are. That's gotta be an insane experience. 

[00:09:09] And another thing that you said that really resonated with me is a lot of teachers that I talk to start in Pilates and kind of do what you did in reverse and that they start Pilates and then they widen their lens because the Pilates lens is very specific and very narrow. Um, and then they bring in all these movement modalities. But to start immediately from having, you know, I've got five different things that I have this experience in, so I'm- you're not stuck in one lens, like you already have multiple ways of looking at problem solving and to be able to identify, um, what was missing in your own rehab and then solve your own problem. That's like very Joseph Pilates of you. Very cool. 

[00:09:48] Yeah. You know, I, I think, you know, my whole life I thought the way I felt was normal. My tightness and my restriction, this is just how people feel. And then until it wasn't, and, you know, getting it to dance before even college [00:10:00] was really so therapeutic because there was so much mobility and strengthening that made my body feel better.

[00:10:06] I didn't know why it was making me feel better. I didn't realize that the, the cerebral palsy had such restriction that dancing was at first an antidote before it became a problem. Before be, before I was challenging myself at such a level to require, that would result in such overuse problems. 

[00:10:22] Right? Cause the dance you're talking about is not like, Oh, I went to a dance class. You're talking like very high level sort of athlete performance in terms of things. 

[00:10:32] Yeah. Yeah. These are, this is, this is like 15 performances in a week because we had tech rehearsals, dress rehearsals, all the like kids coming in for midday rehearsals and practices and performances. Um, and this is this. The little choreography that the New York City Ballet did with George Balanchine. This isn't like a watered down version. This is like you do this version . Yeah, it's, there's, there's a lot of, there's a lot of stake and so you're very much at a very high level of athleticism and there's a lot of social pressure on you to do a good [00:11:00] job so that the university can continue to have great works coming to the program.

[00:11:04] Um, but yeah, my, my involvement in the movement therapies and modalities was actually much bigger than my Pilates exposure at first. So, Started, you know, attending workshops and various, um, opportunities and conventions with Pilates, it was more of like, not the main thought. It wasn't the main, that wasn't the main thing.

[00:11:26] My main thing is problem solving. And so I, I didn't, I rarely looked at Pilates as like, you know, I teach Pilates, I'm a Pilates teacher. I look at myself as a problem solver, and Pilates is one of the tools that I use. And I think oftentimes we can get stuck in talking about our tool, instead of talking about the real value we bring to people's lives.

[00:11:45] And so I'm much more interested in talking to someone about the value that they could have in their life versus like, Here's a reformer and here's a spring. And I mean, that's cool, but that's not gonna tell them how they're gonna change their life. [00:12:00] And you know, that's like, side note, if you're having a hard time getting clients and you're doing consults, stop talking about your tools.

[00:12:06] Talk about how you show up ,what they need you for, why now? Anyway, rant over. Talk about who you are and what you do and not the tools. . Yeah. 

[00:12:16] I think that's super valuable because I, I think Pilates teachers, I hang out mostly with Pilates teachers and we love talking about our tools. But I think from a client's perspective, a little bit of a reformer introduction. I definitely appreciated when I first got on it and I was like, What is this torture device? But beyond that, it's like, how am I gonna get stronger? How am I gonna be able to do the thing that I can't do right now? How is this gonna help me get there? I think that's, Yeah, I think you're onto something. 

[00:12:43] I'm very curious when I talk to somebody, what's at stake for them? You know, why? Why do wanna have this conversation with me? Why now? What's at stake? What's gonna improve in your life? Where you go, Yeah, this is really worth spending time with you doing this work. And that's where I'm working towards something that's [00:13:00] greater than just hip mobility or strong abdominals or functioning pelvis, whatever it is, those things are valuable. 

[00:13:06] But like why? What's at stake? What are they gonna be able to do? Can they continue to do stairs? Can they carry buckets of water to their animals at the barn? Like what is it that's at stake for them? And that's a more interesting, and I think keeps it fresher for me in terms of problem solving. Cause I'm working towards something that's real in their life, not just something that's on a chart or in a book or what I'm supposed to do.

[00:13:26] Definitely. Um, so tell me, from Pilates land, did you ever become a Pilates teacher and do a Pilates thing after you did teacher training-y things? I know you've got all these movement modalities. What was teaching like as a new teacher? 

[00:13:42] Yeah, I, I went into, um, I went into a, um, a studio that was brand new and I, and I don't wanna name any programs because I'm not here to like, raise anybody up or bring anybody down. So I, I'll just say that this is, this is my, I was brought into a studio. It was the first one to open in the area when I moved to Metro Detroit, and [00:14:00] they're like, Okay, I see you have extensive background. You have this, this training, but we really need you to go through our program. I'm like, Okay, great. That sounds great. 

[00:14:07] So I go through the program and then it was like, yeah, I don't really, I don't really love memorizing books and spitting back sentences that I'm supposed to. So it was helpful, gave me perspective, but I really was like, Actually I think I've got a better idea. I think the idea here is to apply the patterning of movement therapies to the power of what these machines can do in a body.

[00:14:34] And so I started from scratch and that's where McEntire Pilates came from was like, No, we need a better mouse trap. We need a something that's really gonna allow the teacher to be a problem solver. To work in the gray, not the black and white. Here's right, here's wrong. Well, if the client doesn't fit into that, cuz who does? What do you do? And then you feel like you're not good enough and you're failing. But really, if you can just step back and be a problem solver and not have to have the answer first, then I think it's a [00:15:00] healthier space to live in. 

[00:15:00] So I wasn't interested in memorizing the answer and then having to know the answer before I saw the client. I wanna see the client and like, Who are you? What's going on? What's most important to you? Let's see if this works. And then based on the response, let's go here next. You know, like follow the path where we're getting results and avoid the path where it's like, nothing's happening. Let's go someplace else then.

[00:15:24] So it was actually taking a full program was like, Yeah, I'm gonna go the other way. It was helpful, but I wanna go the other way because I feel like I can help more people and I can have a bigger impact with my clients and also other teachers that wanna go off and be problem solvers. 

[00:15:39] This is really inspiring because I have had experiences where I'm like sometimes the, like the silver lining of this experiences that I know that I don't wanna do this or I don't wanna do it this. And like super kudos to you for recognizing before you were like too deep in to be like, Yeah, actually this isn't how I would like to solve [00:16:00] problems or this isn't how I wanna teach. 

[00:16:01] And I'm getting this Just from talking to you and kind of your personality and all of, also all of the experience, all the work that you've done, that it sounds like you knew really clearly for yourself what you wanted to be as a teacher and like how you wanted your teaching to look, how you wanted your experience to look, and then you did that. Which I recognize is hard. I don't wanna diminish your accomplishment, but like , I really see, I really see your personality as being like, you know, you know it's good and you're doing it. 

[00:16:32] Yeah. Yeah. And I remember there was, there was a moment at the, at the studio where there was another teacher who was really representing this company, like top to bottom. They're the representative. And I had made an adjustment on the equipment, on the, I was in the Cadillac. And had my client doing an exercise and she came across the room like, Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop. You, you, you have to bring that, that bar down and you can't put your springs like that. 

[00:16:56] I was like, Oh, you don't know me, we're [00:17:00] not gonna, we're, we're not gonna have an issue right now, but I'm gonna tell you that's never gonna happen again because the level that I go to, to build trust with my clients so that they know I've got them. And for her to come over and just pull the rug out because it wasn't in the book. I was like, No, that's never gonna happen again.

[00:17:18] And it never happened again because I made sure that, because ultimately the client is who's gonna suffer. I, I don't care. Like I have thick skin. That's not really gonna bother me. I wasn't like sad about it. It's just like, no, like the client made it here today. And you don't know what a client goes through to get in the car to get to the studio to keep their appointment. You don't know what's at stake for them or what's keeping them back or holding them down. Don't do that to them. It's not me, it's them that you're doing it to.

[00:17:43] And so it just reinforced, yeah, I don't wanna, I don't wanna live in this black and white place. I don't wanna teach out of the book where the setting is X and the spring is Y. And you have to say the breath like this, because everybody learns different. Everybody needs different things. And what I was doing was actually really [00:18:00] helpful for the client, in my opinion and their opinion. So. 

[00:18:03] Right. And I think that's gotta be so liberating too. It's something I tell clients when we do variations of exercises is like all the exercises are made up. It's just who made them up, you know? So this is, you know, an Olivia original. 

[00:18:20] Yeah. Can we just get real about it? For sure. Yeah. And also on that note, I'll to say I would love it, I would love to challenge new and experienced even teachers that have been teaching for 30 years to stop saying where you got the exercise. If, if somebody taught you something, you don't have to say, Oh, well I got this from so and so 20 years ago, and this one I learned from so, and. Because you know what? They learned it from somebody and so did they, and so did they. And ultimately I think when you do that, you diminish your power. You give your power away because there, the, the value you actually showing up to, to offer the exercise is where the enrichment happens.

[00:18:57] It isn't the exercise in the vacuum, [00:19:00] it isn't giving someone credit unless it was super innovative and it's just like, Hey, you gotta know this. But I hear so many people giving credit to everything they teach, to the person who told them. And I think that it's just better if we can own our power and, and know that we're here for the client and we're here to share the work.

[00:19:19] And if you're talking to other Pilates teachers and they wanna know, they'll ask. And I'm happy to share that I learned things from all kinds of people. I'm not gonna hide it, but I'm not gonna lead with it because then how are you gonna trust me? Like how do you know like I've got you if I'm saying I'm getting this stuff from all over the place, but instead it's like I'm assessing the situation I'm working with you. We're problem solving together. Yeah. 

[00:19:42] And I think that, you know, who you've learned from becomes another tool in your toolbox. Like I a hundred percent respect and honor lineages. And I know for some people it's very important that the way that they're cuing the exercise is specifically historically accurate to the teacher that they, that they follow.[00:20:00] 

[00:20:00] But, But I also recognize that the fact that you as a teacher recognize that that exercise is gonna be a good fit for your client, that you can give them that exercise and you giving them the exercise and you're not gonna do it exactly the same. Even if you are trying that, it's your way of doing it. And because you have that relationship with your client that makes it more effective. They don't care who other Pilates teachers are. 

[00:20:23] It occurs to me, cuz when I first got into Pilates, there is a lot, I don't know if it's gate keeping necessarily, but there's a lot of who knows who and who's done what with who and did where. And you're expected- there's like a really high barrier to entry in terms of like, well, I'd studied with so-and-so, and that's really, really cool and I honor and respect that and from a historical perspective it's super neat, but I can see in a teaching way if I was in class and it didn't matter, like why are, why? Just gimme the exercise.

[00:20:55] I, I love lineages. I, I love, I love that there are people that want to [00:21:00] follow and honor the way an idea was presented and kind of preserve that. I don't love that it has to be an argument. I think it's so silly because, you know, one of the things I love most about any, any workshop or course I've taught is the diversity in the room. I'd rather have the diversity. I'd rather have someone who's teaching a lineage, classic, authentic, whatever you wanna call it, with somebody who's coming from a different background, who's creative, who's a problem solver, and is gonna think outside the box because it's a better experience for everybody and you can see what you like and what you don't like and, and get ideas in different ways because of that, that uniqueness. So I'd rather, I'd rather just honor it for everybody, you know? Yeah. It's not a fight. 

[00:21:43] Yeah. It doesn't have to be a fight. That's a waste of energy for sure. 

[00:21:46] Um, you again seemed really sure of yourself when you came into Movement land, but can you reflect a bit on how your teaching has changed over time or what you've noticed in yourself as you taught?

[00:21:59] Yeah. [00:22:00] Um, yeah, I, I don't know. I think I was born with like an extra bucket of confidence. I'm not really sure why. I was so confident and so sure. I just, I didn't have a reason not to be, I guess. I don't know. I just was like, Yep, this is what I'm doing. This makes total sense. I'm gonna reinvent everything. I'm gonna put my name on it. Sure. Who does that, you know? 

[00:22:17] And I got a lot of flack for too. And like, people are like, Who do you think you are putting your name next to Pilates? And I was like, You know what? I love the challenge, but I didn't just open up a studio and call it McEntire Pilates. I, I have quite a background that it resulted in really honoring what was created in the Pilates world and with what, what Joseph Pilates created, but also I have my own take on it. I have my own approach in problem solving. So I feel like that was a way to honor it, because there's a lot of Pilates in what I do, but it's not really just Pilates. It's really certainly much more neurological work than it is just Pilates exercises in the vacuum. 

[00:22:56] So I think how I've evolved is I've, I really feel [00:23:00] like my confidence has grown in knowing that I'm gonna find the answer. I think earlier on. I had more stress and more pressure in myself to find the answer quicker. Like in this session, like in the next 10 minutes, I have to fix your hip flexors. You know? And I put that pressure on myself like, I, I have to have the right exercise next, and if I don't have the right exercise, then I'm failing.

[00:23:25] And so I've really, I I, I, I was just coaching somebody the other day on this. I said, You know what? If when someone comes in and they have this low back issue, whatever it is, you spend the next two weeks helping them recover from it. Not the, not the first half hour, but if it takes you a couple weeks? If it happens sooner, that's awesome. But what if you take the pressure off of yourself? 

[00:23:46] And for me, that's relief. That's like, man, you know what? I'm sure it'll happen sooner, but it don't have to. It doesn't have to be now. I don't know what's going on. I don't know what their situation is. I don't know what caused it. I have to [00:24:00] get information, I have to learn about what's, what's really going on here.

[00:24:03] And I don't ever wanna be in a position where my client approaches me with a fix me. I'm not, I'm not gonna fix you. I want problem solve for you in a way that you can't problem solve for yourself, and then you're gonna do the work and that's how you're going to keep the pattern and that's how neurologically it's going to help.

[00:24:19] But I can't fix you cuz if, if it was a fix you situation, then you're not gonna, you're not gonna keep it neurologically. The pattern is not gonna stick. It's not gonna be something that you own. And it's why, you know, you have, you get a surgery, you know, it fixes the problem. But now you have all these other side effects and, and bad patterning because you didn't do it yourself. You know, it's not neurologically wound into your practice. It was something that was done to fix a problem, like a hip replacement, which is great. We need that. But then also, not only do we have to recover from the, the fact that you have a artificial hip, but we have to recover from the surgery itself, you know. So it does, it does become complicated to think you're supposed to fix somebody in one session. I wanna spread that [00:25:00] out and give myself the freedom to make those decisions. 

[00:25:01] So I think over time it's really changed into less pressure and then helping other people feel less pressure to know the answer. 

[00:25:09] Yeah, I mean, I would get clients intake forms and then have a session with them, like they'd fill out the intake form and then give it to you, and then you start the session. And then I've like, gotta know all things about, you know, ankle surgeries and I'm like, Okay, well. 

[00:25:23] But I, I love, but I love this idea of seeing yourself it's like a co-conspirator with your client because they have answers. They know what works in their body and like, just like you had done all of this journaling about this made it worse, this made it better. They know, Oh, you know, when I do a bunch of crunches, my back hurts and I, you know, when I do a backend, it feels better. And you can explore that, build on that. Use the tools that you have as a teacher with all of your experience with bodies and movement modalities. 

[00:25:53] But see, like so much less pressure to see it as an exploration and a [00:26:00] process and not a instant gratification. Cuz Pilates takes a while. I feel like we don't talk about that. Like it doesn't, like you might feel great after, but like real change takes time and consistency and work. 

[00:26:13] Yeah. It's a practice. You practice it so that you can continue to improve your qualities and fill in gaps. And I think also it's if you approach it with a, with a practice mind, then if you have something that happens, you already have a movement practice, so you can just shift what you're doing. You're not starting from scratch. 

[00:26:32] I mean, think about the people that don't have a movement practice. They're not doing Pilates, they have no movement in their life, and they get hurt. Now they don't know their body, they're not aware, and now they have a big problem. They're really in a hole. You know what I mean?

[00:26:45] So having that practice becomes so helpful later on when you really hit a wall, you know, you know your body, you know how to move, so you can do things that are gonna help you, but you're not starting from scratch.[00:27:00] 

[00:27:03] Hi there. I hope you're enjoying today's chapter so far. There's great stuff coming up after the break too. Be sure to subscribe wherever you're listening and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. There, you can make a one-time donation or become a member for as little as $5 a month.

[00:27:23] Membership comes with some awesome perks, including a shout out in the next episode, a monthly newsletter, a monthly zoom call with me and more. You can also visit links.OliviaBioni.com/affiliates to check out some sweet deals on products I use and love. Now back to the show.[00:28:00] 

[00:28:00] Can you, I don't know where I wanna go from this. I do wanna get your advice for new teachers, but I also wanna know how the, how you started really combining this patterning and this, this neurology component to your Pilates. So where do you wanna go from here? Cuz I wanna go everywhere. 

[00:28:17] Well, I'll talk about, I'll talk about that. I tend to be a super researcher, super nerd, and when, when, uh, books started being published in literature and research was being released more commonly in the public about the fact that our brains are plastic and that, you know, there's all these things around the, the brain. I'm like, you know, I should read this stuff. This might be helpful for me in my, in my work. I should really check this out. 

[00:28:46] And like books like, uh, the Body Keeps the Score, you know, all this stuff. And I, I'm, I'm open the books and I'm like, This is exactly what I'm doing. This is how I'm teaching. This is what I'm, And I just couldn't believe, like book after book after [00:29:00] book was confirming what I'd been doing for years. And it was like, Oh, I don't need research. I just need the validation for what I'm doing is real. 

[00:29:08] And so then what it did is it gave me a vocabulary. It wasn't that like one day I'm like, You know what? Starting today I'm doing neurological work. I'd always been doing that. I did that with myself. It was about finding a pattern that could stick, reinforcing it, having that pattern be stronger than the one that I had prior so that I could actually have a new pattern take over.

[00:29:28] Cuz you don't, you don't forget the pattern until you have a pattern strong enough to live on. And even then, the older you get, the harder it is to lose that old pattern, you know? But I got this vocabulary like I've been working with the brain this whole time. Now I have words. I can create more intention around this and lean in to this idea.

[00:29:50] And I think it's really needed in the Pilates world. I think it's, it's a missing piece for teachers that are struggling because they have so much at their fingertips. It's valuable, [00:30:00] and they're missing a really big piece of the puzzle that I discovered along the way, and I just wanna share it with people.

[00:30:08] Yeah. I mean, I, in my own work, I work with a lot of older adults, and so I know that that becomes a growing concern in terms of balance and coordination and like our, our brain's involved in all of our movements. And it's definitely to not address it is like, we're not gonna do any leg exercises, like, who needs legs? Like you need your brain, like, we need to work our brain. 

[00:30:32] Can you break down for people who may not be familiar when you're talking about a pattern, can you give me like kind of an example of like what a pattern might be and how you would change it? 

[00:30:44] Let's make this really easy for people because, um, when you start talking with the brain, Pilates teachers can get really like, uh, yeah, I teach Pilates. I don't really do this brain stuff, but I'm gonna tell you, if you teach Pilates, you're doing brain stuff. You're just really primarily focused in [00:31:00] proprioception. You're just focused on muscles and joints, and that's awesome and needed and important. But what's missing is your visual system and your vestibular system. And when you put all three of those together, that's really where it's at. 

[00:31:15] And for me that was, it was the discovery I told you that that cerebral palsy piece was one big arm of my story. But the other piece of this is that, you know, I failed first grade. I didn't, I didn't have the ability to read. Who fails first grade? I mean, I do, right? But I, I couldn't read. We changed schools and my reading was off. And by the time I got to third grade, my teacher's like, uh, he has a really hard time reading. We're gonna give him more reading to do. And at that time, at that time, I didn't have homework. You, you know, that wasn't something that was given, but I had homework because I couldn't get my reading done in school.

[00:31:52] So I had reading to do and homework already. And then my teacher's like, Here's more of the thing you can't do, because there was no sense as to why I wasn't [00:32:00] able to read. I could comprehend the words. I was literate, you know, I was able to function. So then I, in college, I was like, I have to read in college. So I would get up early in the morning, six and seven in the morning, do my reading. Because what would happen for me is when I was reading, I'd fall asleep, like two sentences in. I would just literally fall asleep. So I couldn't read in the afternoon or evening, cuz I just couldn't, I couldn't manage it.

[00:32:25] So, Um, you know, I got through college that was great, and then I decided how I would learn the audio books instead of reading. I'd listen to audio books, but I had such shame around the idea of doing audio books instead of reading. I would just say, I'm reading books. 

[00:32:40] How, how this became a part of my career is that I was going to a conference in California. And I was telling a client, I'm reading this book series and it's really, it's really fun. It's really like a youth book series, but I really enjoy it and I need to get the next book cuz I, I'm, I'm ready for the next one. Well, I mean, in my head, audio book that I'm gonna [00:33:00] listen to on my phone, so the next time she comes in she brings me a copy of that book to read and I'm like, Oh no, I've gotta get the audio book and listen to it on the, on the plane so I can report back that, oh, thank you so much for the book. It was great. 

[00:33:11] All this story I have to manufacture around this issue cause I know that I'm not gonna be able to read. I go to the conference and I, I do just like a few minutes of vision therapy with somebody at a booth and it was like, that was awesome. And I went back to my booth and I, a friend that stopped by and I missed them, so they wrote me a this, like page long note, and I picked up a paper and I read it like I've never read in my life. I couldn't believe how fast I read. And I was like, Whoa, that's amazing. 

[00:33:41] And, and that was the, that was like the spark of I've got to bring the eyes into my work. I have to do this. And when I start doing research, and you can look at, there's like really high level intensive programs that do this kind of work. You can do, there's vision therapists that specialize, that do amazing work. But for [00:34:00] me, I was like, Yeah, I'm really like eight inside and I want a game. I wanna make this fun and accessible. 

[00:34:07] Because vision therapy and vestibular therapy is super serious and boring. Like it just is. And every client that I get that comes in that has been to those therapies, they bring me their worksheets and I'm like, Do you do your homework? And they're like, No, it's terrible. I hate it. It's boring. It hurts. I'm like, Yeah, let's make this fun. 

[00:34:23] So it was, it was really the fact that I discovered that the eyes played such a huge role in my life that I, I really dove in to bringing that to my work. And so when you talk about patterning and you talk about like, issues with a client, let's make this about the teacher. Okay. You're with, you're with your client, you're on the reformer, and you, you keep having to correct their pelvis. They keep tucking their pelvis under as they push the machine out and you're like, No, no, no, I want your pelvis here. And you tell them all the things that use use and how to hold it, and you give them a prop and all of the things and they just can't make it work.

[00:34:56] Well, you are using the proprioception [00:35:00] system to fix an issue that lives in a higher order system. It lives in the eyes, it lives in the inner ear. So if you have a weakness in your eyes or a weakness in the inner ear, you can't fix it at the appropriate reception level because your brain listens to your eyes first. It's gonna override whatever's going on in. So you can get that person literally off the reformer. I use the brain speedball that I invented because that was my, I had to make it a game. So it was like we play a game of brain speedball, We get back on the reformer and look, the pelvis works fine because we exercise the eyes. We got the visual system, which the brain needs to change and fill in gaps. So that's a long story to tell you, like, that's, that's how I got here. 

[00:35:43] That's wild. Oh my gosh. And I know exactly what you're talking about. Cuz as soon as you're like, they keep talking their pelvis, I'm like, let's get a ball. Let's poke 'em here. Like, let's do these things. And you're trying to help, you're trying to help with the tools that you have. But this is, this is a different system. That's, that's so interesting. 

[00:35:59] And it's [00:36:00] gotta change the way you teach because. Once, you know, it's like I'm trying to solve an apple problem with a banana and you're just keep giving them banana but they need an apple.

[00:36:13] So how has that changed sort of the way you teach? Is this something you like bring out on occasion? Do you do specific classes for this? When clients work with you, is it totally client centered? Like how is this changed the way you teach? Or? 

[00:36:27] So with clients, this is, they're coming into my studio. They're coming to McEntire Pilates for their Pilates class, for their Pilates session. So this game lasts for like a minute or three minutes. This is not like, now you're here for brain therapy. It's just we're gonna incorporate movement of all your systems, so you're moving your legs and your spine, and your pelvis, and your shoulders and your eyes. That's it. It's just, it's just the, the next exercise is for your eyes, because it's gonna help with the next.

[00:36:57] Just like you wanna help the knees, you [00:37:00] better help the ankles. You wanna help the hips, you better help the knees. You, you wanna help the ribs, you better help the pelvis. You know, you, you have to work up the chain with how our bodies function. So you wanna help your whole system and your brain actually be able to fix what's going on. You better address your eyes cuz your eyes are taking in 80% of the information your brain needs to function. So you're leaving out a huge piece. 

[00:37:22] If there's a gap there, if there's a weakness, and I don't mean acuity, I don't mean like how sharp you see something. I literally mean the range of motion of your eyes, the strength of your eyes, how well they work together, because all those muscles tie to controlling your eyes. And if your eyes can't work together, then the information going to your brain is, is cloudy and it's off and it's compensated, and then you know, then your output is compensated. Because if you have better sensory input, you get better output across the board for everything. 

[00:37:49] This. This is like a totally, for me, a different way of thinking about things. Like I'm super excited. Your book is on my reading list because I feel like, just like in Pilates, and you've been in the Pilates [00:38:00] land longer than I have, but there's this trend towards- it's, it's like an addition trend where it's like, okay, well we understand muscles pretty well and we understand bones pretty well.

[00:38:09] Um, and now we're talking about other systems that are feeding into that are like drastically affecting how our muscles and bones do the thing that they do and rubber band move us around like Muppets. But this brain piece seems to be like very not included in current trainings, but I see where the need is for like all populations, not just older adults. Like you were talking about people who have wide ranging stuff going on. 

[00:38:38] Yeah. Yeah. It, it, it really is the go-to tool for like, if you have kids and you wanna help them with their focus and regulation and sort of like their inner environment, it's awesome. It just helps them so much. When you're talking about fall prevention, you better be talking about the inner ear cuz if you wanna help people with balance, it isn't putting them on a wobble disk by the. Like that's great for [00:39:00] stability training and some reaction, but that's not balance. And so often standing on a wobble cushion is looked at as balance training.

[00:39:10] But to do balance training, you have to be moving your head. You have to find all the pathways where you're moving your head in various positions and movements. Otherwise, you're not really doing balance training cuz balance lives in the in your ear. That vestibular system has to be addressed. And so often we're laying on your back still, and we're sitting still, and we're prone still. There's not a lot of intentional head and eye movement. Mm. 

[00:39:35] I think that, you know, I love Pilates. I feel like I have to put disclaimers out all the time. I do love Pilates, but I don't think that Joseph Pilates, Pilates had all the ingredients necessary for life in the world. So I love that, you know. Awesome, cool. Intelligent people such as yourself are contributing to Pilates in a way that makes the work [00:40:00] work for more people. 

[00:40:03] Yeah, I think, I think Joseph Pilates was brilliant and I don't think for a moment that he was done creating and I don't see his work as, as something that's that start and stopped and that is Pilates. I love that there are people who want to teach the way they know has been taught. I think that's a lot of value. This preserves history. It's really important. 

[00:40:29] But if you just look at the evolution of the reformer, it's been many things. It had weights attached to it. At one point, it wasn't even springs.

[00:40:39] That was insane. I am so glad that we didn't do that because I can, I'm not a height person. I would not be up on a 20 foot platform with counterweights moving the bed. No thanks. Mm-hmm. Not for me. 

[00:40:50] Yeah. So for me, I think, I don't think he was done creating, and when I look at the, the furniture line that converts into equipment and the innovation- he [00:41:00] was really innovative and, and certainly I think that any modality that has time evolves and gets incorporated in, into other things and becomes what it needs to be to help the people of the time. 

[00:41:14] Yeah. I do think I see Joe, I think first and foremost as an inventor, and like yourself as a problem solver. That people came in and they had problems. Their feet didn't do what they wanted or their knees didn't do what they wanted, their hip didn't do what they wanted.

[00:41:27] And so even within lineages, when we see differences between exercises, it, it just, my personal thought, that Joe may have taught them differently because someone needed something different and it doesn't make it less Pilates or like less good because you do this version or this version. It's like, what are we addressing? Like what is the problem that we're solving? It's gonna be different for different people. 

[00:41:50] Yeah. Yeah, for sure. 

[00:41:53] Can you share, uh, a bit about this movement gap? Because you've, you've [00:42:00] alluded to, but Pilates teachers are in like a really great place to help people in ways that others aren't. So tell me about this.

[00:42:08] This is like, if you, if there's one thing you can take away from our conversation, this is it. I'm telling you, this is a game changer if you have this perspective because this is what's happening in our world. Your clients, the people around, they're getting injured, they're having some kind of dysfunction, some kind of disease.

[00:42:26] They go to PT, they go to their therapies, they go to their doctor, and then they're done with those people and they're not better. And so they fall into what I call is the movement gap, or they're, they're done with, with what the medical profession can help them with, which is super important. But the medical profession is not designed to take you across the finish line. It never was. So you can't look at it like that. It's not that we have to be mad at them, it's more like, what is it? 

[00:42:50] Okay, now that we know that, that they're not there to take you across the finish line a hundred percent, how do you fill in that gap? Because that's where you sit. You can't, you, you're done with the PT, you're done [00:43:00] with the therapies that you needed. You're not really able to do the things you wanna do in your life. And Pilates teachers sit in this space where that's exactly what we do. And if you can see yourself in that space and you can talk to your clients about, that's what you do. Somebody comes in and you specialize in helping people out of that movement gap, your schedule will be full.

[00:43:19] Because there's gazillions of people who are in that gap and suffering and not knowing what to do and how to get better. And they're not gonna go to the gym, they're not gonna ride a bike, they're not gonna go for a walk. They, they, they don't know what to do and they don't feel well. So that movement gap is, is just really an opportunity. And I believe in my heart that it's the future of our profession. It's a future of how we do what we do because we have such freedoms in the work we do. We don't have walls controlling all the moves we make, and that's, that's beautiful, but that's really the opportunity.

[00:43:53] If you can see through the lens of where clients are really sitting in their life, then it's huge. You have better [00:44:00] conversations with your clients and it helps your client understand your role in their life.

[00:44:06] I think my favorite thing about teaching Pilates is that it's not, you know, I mean technically we sell packages but it's not like, Okay, well I see you five times and then I never see you again cuz it's not covered by your insurance anymore and you should be rehabbed.

[00:44:21] Um, we really can be there through, you know, a client's life. I have clients who I've been seeing for the entire time I've been a teacher, and I know my teaching has changed and their needs have changed. Maybe when I first started seeing them, they were like right out of PT for a hamstring tear. But you know, now we've moved on to other things and we're solving other problems. 

[00:44:43] And things that hadn't even been a possibility because the thing that got them into that movement gap was such a pressing issue. This like, continued pain in their hamstring. And now that's like, Oh yeah, that used to bother me. And I used to like be awake at night in pain, but now that's like not even a thing. Now [00:45:00] I wanna lift this or do teaser. I've got a client who's like 80 years old working on teaser and it's like the coolest thing ever because, because that wasn't even, that wasn't even in the cards of what we were gonna work on when I first started seeing them, but, It, we can evolve with them and like what the Pilates they do, the movement they do changes over the course of their life as well. And that's cool. 

[00:45:22] Yeah, it is cool. Yeah, it's, it's really an honor. I mean, for me, I have clients that I've had for 25 years that blows my mind. Holy moly, you know, it's, it's amazing. And, and you with them through so many huge life, you know, occurrences, like whether they're good or they're bad and they're ugly.

[00:45:41] And because you're there and you've always been there at 25 years, they , they show up differently. They know how, what to tell you and what to give you to help them more. The newer client doesn't know what to say, doesn't know what to share, that they should share, or you know, you know those [00:46:00] clients of like three months in, Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. Um, I have, uh, part of my spine is artificial. I had it removed and caged back together. You're like, what? You're telling me that now? Goodness gracious. Right? I didn't know. I didn't know you needed to know. You know, It's like, yeah, I need to know these things cuz they don't know how to see us. They don't know how we fill, fill the, the gaps in their, in their life.

[00:46:19] And that's why I'm telling you to talk about the movement gap, to talk about filling in that space and to have the, the training and the, the experience with people that do that so that you can talk to your clients with that. They'll understand you, they'll know how to show up and they'll, you'll be able to do better work with them.

[00:46:35] Yes. Yes, definitely. 

[00:46:38] What is your advice for new teachers who, maybe they're in teacher training and maybe they're hearing this and they're like, Wow, this is cool. Um, what can you share for them? 

[00:46:49] Well, I mean a couple things. First of all, like capital R, relax. Just relax. Just relax. And I mean this with like all of the love and [00:47:00] heart I have because when you're in a teacher training program, there's a lot of pressure to get all the things right and to remember and know all of the things and all the modifications.

[00:47:11] And I would much rather have a teacher that could sit and be with somebody and be present and take in what's going on and give them a few solutions that are meaningful, than making sure they do 17 exercises in this order with these springs and this breath. You know, that's cool that that's possible. And I do love a good class that's got 25 things that flows really well. Super awesome. 

[00:47:38] But know that your teacher training is not who you are as a professional. You have the opportunity to decide who you are as a professional. Your teacher training is your education. It's really important and you do it, but also decide who you are as a professional. Relax about all the pressures to get everything right [00:48:00] and decide who you are as a professional and show up consistently as that person. 

[00:48:06] That is great. I mean, I think that's good advice for me also because even I, I think there is that pressure and sometimes we put that pressure on us and sometimes that's almost like an industry standard and clients like expect that like, Oh, I'm gonna tell you that my shoulder hurts and then you're gonna fix it. And it's like, well, , maybe . Let's try, let's try some things. 

[00:48:28] Um, I think it is, I think it is valuable and, and what you touched on right there, that sort of self assurance, knowing yourself piece and then being able to be yourself with other people is huge. Because that relationship, the relationship we have with our clients is very different than a doctor patient is very different from a physical therapist and a patient like we are with our clients through their lives. Like I know people whose grandkids are going off to college for the first time, and people who are getting married and they're on vacation. They're just [00:49:00] like all of these life moments like. We're not like a part of it, but we're like a part of it at the same time. 

[00:49:07] Well, you're part of a support structure. I mean, you are how they, how they're able to go do these things. How they can stand up and how they can walk and function and joy, and have joy and dance and all the things that they wanna do. Move their kids in, help with the grandkids, build the loft at college. You know, whatever it might be. 

[00:49:24] That's so true. That's so, so true. 

[00:49:26] So it's not like you aren't doing a million things, but if people wanted to hang out with you or know more about what you're working on, how can they find you, connect with you and learn all about the brain? 

[00:49:38] Yeah. I would invite everyone to go to fireupyourbrain.com. And that's where you can, you can really get more information on my story. And kind of, I kind of unpack failing first grade I, and just kind of share, share the journey because I think we all have our own journey. And I think if you can, you can see someone's journey, you can start to reflect on your own because your own story [00:50:00] matters in your work. And the more you can bring your story to your work and how you problem solve and how you help, the more meaningful it is for your clients. And the more real you show up as, you're not just showing up as someone who's spitting back your teacher training manuals, but you know you had a struggle and you got through your struggle and you know what it's like. And so your clients can relate to that. So that's my invitation. 

[00:50:21] Excellent. Is there anything else you wanna share or touch on that I did not ask you about? Anything else you wanna chip in? 

[00:50:28] I, I would just say this, I, I would encourage every teacher to make the promise that I make to my clients. I promise my clients, on a regular basis, one of three things is gonna happen. It's gonna get better, it's gonna get worse, or it's gonna stay the same, I promise. 

[00:50:44] I do that because I don't want any pressure more than I already put on myself to do a good job, to be perfect, to have the right answer. So they, they know I'm gonna make choices and it's gonna work. It's not gonna work. It's gonna stay the same. [00:51:00] But know that the reason why you're gonna choose to work with me is because based on what happens, I'm gonna make another choice and we're gonna go another direction. So if it's not working, I'll make another choice. If it's staying the same, I'll make another choice. But if it's getting better, I'm gonna lean in and that's why you're gonna wanna work with me.

[00:51:14] So if you need clients, that's the story you share. If you, that's something you feel like it resonates with you and you can own and you can practice, it's a shift for some people. But it's the reality of what happens. It's either gonna get better, or worse, or say the same . Every time, one of those three things is gonna happen.

[00:51:32] It's like it, for me, that's like such an exhale moment, even though I know that that's true, it just like makes me exhale and relax a bit. Another pressure that I think Pilates teachers put on themselves is like, what you do in the session is super important, but it's not what they do for the other 23 hours of their day and the other seven days of their week.

[00:51:52] And so sometimes, you know, you'll have a client, they do swan, and then they're like, Oh my gosh, my back is killing me. And then they blame Swan and it's like maybe [00:52:00] it's your oldest child leaving home, like, I don't know, I'm not a psychologist, but it's possible that that's stressful, you know, or that there's other things going on. 

[00:52:08] And so to be on the same page with your clients and say, Look, this is what we're gonna do together. Um, and then I also tell them that they do other things in their life, that could also be it. Um, no, I think that, I think you're onto something there. And to say that up front I think is just having that communication with your clients and being like, Look, here's how it goes. We'll go from there. 

[00:52:31] Yeah. I, and, and it helps remove that fix me issue. I don't, I don't ever wanna teach to be in the position where your clients are saying, Fix me. That's a client that I'm firing quickly. If they can't shift out of fix me, uh, I can't work with them because they don't, they don't want me, they don't need me. They want someone who's gonna do it for them. I'm gonna, I'm gonna be annoying cuz I'm not gonna do it for you. I'm gonna make you do it over and over again. You're not gonna like me because , you don't wanna do that. 

[00:52:57] But I, I mean, research [00:53:00] supports what you're saying though, Trent, because people who are an active participant in their recovery are more likely to recover. So good. 

[00:53:05] Imagine like neurologically reinforcing a pattern yourself actually accomplishes the goal versus having somebody do it for you. 

[00:53:14] Well, when you put it like that, Trent, why aren't we all doing that? 

[00:53:18] Well, I'll tell you, you know what's really beautiful is that Pilates teachers fill in the gap until the client can do it themselves. There's a lot of value in helping, like get them going, but it doesn't mean you always do it for them. You might assist them and show them and guide them and mirror them and support them physically with hands on corrections, but that at some point turning those are off and they're not depending on you to fix them. Right. 

[00:53:43] What, what are we gonna do? Follow them around and like poke their pelvis constantly and be like, No, not like that. Yeah, no. 

[00:53:49] That's fantastic. Well, I wanna thank you so much for your time, for coming on, for sharing your story. Um, what you said about sharing stories I think is huge and that's a big thing of every conversation I have with [00:54:00] teachers is I wanna know how you got from where you were to where you are, because that's literally what being alive is like.

[00:54:06] And as Pilates teachers, we all come at the work with our own experience and our what resonates with us and the problems we see and solve and all of that. So thank you so, so much for sharing, uh, your story and your advice today, Trent. 

[00:54:20] Oh, you're welcome, Olivia. This is a great time. Thanks so much.

[00:54:31] Thanks for listening to this week's chapter of Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. Check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual, and be sure to subscribe wherever you listen. For more Pilates goodness, check out my other podcast, Pilates Students' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts. 

[00:54:55] The adventure continues. Until next time.[00:55:00]